Education A National Roundup

Federal Judges Nix Kamehameha Policy

By Linda Jacobson — August 09, 2005 1 min read

The practice by the private Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii of restricting admission to children of Native Hawaiian descent is discriminatory, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

Judge Jay S. Bybee, writing for a two-judge majority of a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9thCircuit, in San Francisco, said that “the schools’ admissions policy, which operates in practice as an absolute bar to admission for those of the nonpreferred race, constitutes unlawful race discrimination” and violates the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

The plaintiff, known only as John Doe, twice applied to the schools, which serve about 6,500 students in preschool through 12th grade on three Hawaiian islands. But when he completed a required “ethnic-ancestry survey,” his application was denied. “We’ll continue to fight for our rights in the courts to serve these students, on our campuses and in our island communities,” Jay Mailer, the chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools, said in a statement.

The private schools, founded in 1887, are supported by a $6 billion trust, endowed by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a great-granddaughter of the king who united the Hawaiian islands in 1810.

A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week